Here’s how Washington was able to get the win.
An early lead
The Capitals drew first blood early, as in 14 seconds early. That’s how long it took for Jay Beagle to give Washington the lead. On what looked like a broken zone entry for the Caps, Devante Smith-Pelly chipped a loose puck over to Jay Beagle in the high slot and he was able to fire a wrister past Henrik Lundqvist. In a game in which New York looked to be in command at several points, the Rangers ultimately never led. They were always chasing the Caps.
Braden Holtby (especially in the second period)
The Caps leaned on Holtby in this game, especially in the second period. Washington entered the second with a 1-0 lead and even extended that lead to 2-0, but it was New York who looked to be in control. Yet, Holtby was at the top of his game and he did everything he could to maintain the Caps’ lead. He turned aside 12 of the 13 shots he faced in the second including this one-timer from the slot from Mats Zuccarello.
You shall not pass! 🧙♂️
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) December 9, 2017
This game could have been very different given New Yorks’ push in the middle frame. Holtby made sure it wasn’t.
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With the score tied at 2 in the third period, it wasn’t Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom who saved the Caps, but Tom Wilson who continues to look right at home playing on the team’s top offensive line. With less than four minutes to go, Wilson generated a turnover in the neutral zone and took the puck hard to the net. He didn’t score, but the scrambling Rangers’ defense could not clear the puck allowing the Caps to maintain possession. A long-range shot from Ovechkin was stopped by Henrik Lundqvist, but Wilson made a great diving tip to Matt Niskanen who tapped in what would be the game-winning goal. Just two minutes later, Wilson would put the exclamation point on the win with a goal of his own. He took a pass in the neutral zone and turned on the jets to get behind the defense and then neatly tucked the puck in the net behind a sprawling Lundqvist.